Lillibridge Farmhouse // c.1770

Getting lost in New England is always fun because you can simply stumbleupon old farmhouses like this, which look like a setting of a movie! Located in northern Willington, CT, this farmhouse dates to the Revolutionary War! David Lillibridge (1744-1831) of Exeter, Rhode Island, served from 15 to 17 in the French and Indian War, and manned Fort Stanwix. In 1767, he was militia lieutenant, at the age of 25 converted, and entered the Baptist ministry. In 1777, he purchased a farm (unclear if there was a house on the land) from a Moses Holmes in modern day Willington and resided in this old saltbox Georgian home. The home remained in the Lillibridge family at least until the 1870s, when it was owned by Burnham Lillibridge. The house was moved from its previous location right on the street, and set back into the bucolic landscape, a fitting move!

Orrin Holt House // c.1840

Located on Tolland Turnpike in Willington, east of the Town Common, this temple-front Greek Revival home stands in an excellent state of preservation. The home was built for General Orrin Hatch (1792-1855) in about 1840 after his work as a member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives 1830–1832, and in the Connecticut Senate in 1835 and 1836. He was re-elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth Congress, serving until 1839. After leaving Congress, he served as Inspector General of the Connecticut State Militia, until his death in 1855. He likely built this home after leaving Congress in 1839, in his hometown. There is something about a temple-front home like this, they are so stately!

Old Baptist Meetinghouse, Willington // 1829

The Baptist Meetinghouse in Willington was built in 1829 by a local carpenter Albert Sharp, in a transitional Federal/Greek Revival style, common for the period. Its clapboarded facade has a projecting pavilion with two entrances flanking a two-story round-arched window. Four pilasters are surmounted by a wide entablature and the flushboarded pediment of the pavilion. Round-arched windows are repeated on the side elevations and the belfry, which is topped by an octagonal drum and a small dome. The Willington Baptist Church was organized in 1828, started by Rev. Hubbell Loomis, the fourth pastor of the Congregational Church across the common. Rev. Loomis was prominent both as a minister and an educator, and founder of Shurtleff College of Illinois. During his pastorate at the Willington Congregational Church, Mr. Loomis had strong tendencies toward Baptist sentiments. From this, membership of the congregational church split, some leaving for a new Baptist belief and others remained at the congregational church. The two congregations were split until 1911, when they again worshiped under the same roof, as the Federated Church of Willington, meeting in this building.

Old Willington Congregational Church // 1876

The Congregational or Town Church of Willington, Connecticut, has existed since the town’s incorporation in 1728, but originally met in a member’s small home on the Town Green. The Victorian Gothic style church we see today was built in 1876, after members gathered funds to construct the building. Land, materials, and labor were donated to offset costs for the small congregation. The church flourished until a split in the beliefs led to the formation of the Baptist Church of Willington. Eventually, the Congregational Church merged with the Willington Baptist Church in 1911 to form The Federated Church of Willington. The congregation then moved to the Baptist meeting house across the Green. In 1924, the Old Congregational meeting house, which was erected in 1877, was sold for $1 to the Town of Willington with certain restrictions, the most important of which was that, if it should cease to be used for public meetings under the control of the selectmen, possession would revert to the Congregational Ecclesiastical Society. From 1926-1974, the church was used as town hall (when the smaller building next door was outgrown. The church’s bell was removed during World War II to allow plane-spotters to use the tower. Instead of being placed back in the tower, it was mounted on a pedestal outside the building, where it remains today. The Willington Town Offices moved to a former industrial building a short distance away, but retain and maintain the building.

Deacon Turner House // 1849

The Deacon Turner House, built in 1849, is an impressive Greek Revival house located at the Town Common in Willington, Connecticut. The Greek Revival portion was constructed onto an earlier house or store that was built 50 years prior. The one-story structure was likely moved and incorporated into the current house as a rear ell. The present house was designed by architect Augustus Treusdel of Coventry and built for Deacon John Turner by Emery Williams a well known local builder. John Turner was Deacon of the Willington Congregational Church, nearby.

Hiram Rider House // c.1820

Located on the southern edge of Willington Connecticut’s town common, this vernacular example of the Federal style with later alterations is really appealing, mostly for its simplicity and proportions. The house was built around 1820 for Hiran Rider, who served as a judge, county sheriff, and town selectman. The Rider Family were hit by tragedy in 1851 when dysentery hit the household, killing Hiram, his wife Sarah, and their daughter. The home was altered by a later owner with 2-over-2 windows, an Italianate style door, and a door hood.

Willington Train Depot // 1895

TOOT TOOT! Next stop, Willington, Connecticut. Historically, all of central Connecticut was occupied by various Algonquin tribes which for thousands of years inhabited the region, the larger Pequot and Mohegan, and the smaller Nipmuck, Podunk, Shenipset and Skunkamaug all sharing a common-lineage, and language. In 1720, a party of eight men, originally from England, bought 16,000 acres of the region and called it Wellington after the town in England. Willington was incorporated in 1727. Like many early towns, Willington began as a farming community with modest industry until the 19th century, when the American Industrial Revolution saw mills and factories sprouting up all along the river towns in the region. Villages spouted up in town, mostly following their geographic location in relation to the town center (South Willington, West Willington, etc.) and each had their own industry and character. By the 20th century with industry in decline, many of the former mills and villages closed up and residents moved to “greener pastures”. The town is today mostly rural and serves as a suburb to larger towns nearby.

This train depot is located in West Willington just over the town line of Tolland. Due to this, the depot was originally named Tolland Station. Rail service began here in 1850, when the New London, Willimantic and Palmer Railroad Company built a freight and passenger station near this location. The rail line was later absorbed into the larger Central Vermont Railway in 1871. The original depot burned down in 1894, and was replaced that same year by this structure. The line, and this station, were in use for passenger service until 1947, when it closed. The depot has luckily been occupied by businesses ever-since, preserving this building typology in America that we are losing every year.

Soudant House // c.1850

This eclectic house in Collinsville was likely built in the mid-19th century in the Greek Revival style, with its gable roof serving as a pediment. By the end of the 19th century, the prominent corner tower with mansard roof and porch were added to create the oddly pleasing composition we see here today. The home was likely altered by Walter Soudant, who ran a grocery store in the village out of the Valley House (last post). Walter’s daughter, Belle Julie Soudant, was an established singer, who toured Europe before accepting a position as a singing teacher at the Institute of Musical Art in New York, known today as the Juilliard School.

Riverbend Cottage // c.1860

No, this is not Martha’s Vineyard, it is Collinsville, Connecticut! Perched on a hill near the banks of the Farmington River, this quaint little Victorian cottage is one of the better-preserved examples of worker’s cottages in the former industrial village. I could not locate much on the house’s history, beyond that it may have once been part of a larger home, and moved to this site in the 20th century.

Collinsville Congregational Church // 1858

Shortly after Collins and Company was founded in 1826, religious services were held in various homes in the South Canton Village which came to be known as Collinsville. In 1830, the Collins Company erected its first office building on Front Street, and religious services were held there on the second floor. The first church building was erected on land bought by Collins and Company in 1826. By the mid-1850’s, the church membership was outgrowing the building. Although there may have been plans to enlarge the building, tragedy struck and in January 1857, and the church was consumed by fire, which started in the chimney, during a winter storm. The current building was erected almost immediately and dedicated on February 25, 1858. The present church is a grand Greek Revival style building, with a full pediment and large entablature supported by four monumental fluted columns. The two-tiered, square belfry has engaged columns as well. What a great example of a New England church!